Two Buffalo Kids: A Sunday Edition!
If Tim Russert hadn’t died this week, I probably wouldn’t be writing the obligatory Father’s day blog post. This is a knitting blog and my dad, well…I’m sure that if I knitted something for him, he would wear it. He’s the type of person that would wear and rewear the same knitted hat or scarf for years and years. But my dad will never knit. He will never crochet. Rosy Greer notwithstanding, he will never embroider, either.
But this week, Tim Russert did die. It was plastered all over the internet, trumpeted on the radio. Died at 58 years old. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, devout Catholic, working class family, loved the Buffalo Bills, good father, good man, died at 58. After the radio host repeated the same ancedote about Tim for the fourth or fifth time, Dad switched off the radio.
We said, “It’s too bad, he was a good person,” the kind of stuff that you say about someone that you never even met, but cosmic guilt forces you to apologize, somehow make up for an early death. But…it’s a little different, this death.
My father, my non-knitting father, was born in Buffalo, New York. (I was also, but that’s another story) He is 57 years old, the only Protestant shoot from a Catholic family. Every time the Buffalo Bills have a game, our family still groans when they lose again, even though we’ve lived in WV for years now, and even though we know that they’ll lose anyway. He and Tim attended different schools in the same town. Maybe they crossed paths as kids, though Dad never knew him personally.
And then this week, Tim died. A year older than my father. A year older.
Tonight, he pulled some salmon from the fridge, the frozen fillet kind, not some fancy, whole organic fish that swam in blessed waters. Dad doesn’t knit, but he cooks; he cooks better than my mother does, especially breakfast. I stood at the sink, rinsing a couple of dishes, letting the heavy cast iron skillet drip-dry. He tossed the fillets into the microwave and set the skillet on the stove top, turning it up. I grabbed a towel.
”It’ll dry off,” he said.
I dried up the water anyway.
He tossed a fat pat of margarine into the skillet and I continued to rinse dishes as the margarine melted into itself. I paused, the smell of faint burning in the air. The margarine was all melted, the thin golden pool beginning to scorch as my dad started to defrost the frozen fillets.
”It’s burning,” I said intelligently and then when he didn’t move, I grabbed the handle and moved the pan off the burner, turning the heat lower.
”Maybe I wanted it burned,” he grumbled, starting to shake pepper and salt into it.
”Well,” I said sagely, “You can always burn unburned butter, but you can’t unburn burned butter. Or, as Yoda would say, ‘Unburn butter, you cannot!’.”
”Has it ever occured to you,” he said, still continuing in his ‘I’m not really irritated but I’ll pretend to be,’ voice, “That I could do this myself?”
I finished the dishes. A sudden thought suddenly came into my mind and I half-smiled at the reversal of our roles. As a kid, my favorite saying was, “I do it self.”
”Barbara, get down from the back of that couch!”
”I do it self!”
Sometimes, this phrase was repeated in tones that escalated as I foresaw an adult trying to come to my aid—”No, no, I do it self, I DO IT SELF!”
Like father, like daughter, I thought. Dad took the fillets and tossed them into the slightly scorched margarine, the pepper, the salt and a touch of garlic. I smiled, and put down my towel. I decided that Dad could definitely do it self. After all, he’s a much better cook.
I hope that he does it self for a long, long time.
RIP, Tim Russert.